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Aaron Brooks vs. Isaiah Thomas: Did Keith Smart make the right choice?

Regardless of fan sentiment, is Aaron Brooks the better choice at point guard?

Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIRE

I've been a vocal critic of Aaron Brooks more or less since he joined the Kings. The guy has talent, but it replicated much of the skill set already present on the Kings roster. I didn't agree with the choice to sign him. I really didn't agree when Keith Smart began favoring Brooks. I've vocally disagreed as Brooks has emerged not only as the starter, but as the only point guard receiving consistent minutes.

But the starting line-up has been working, no? It's been better. Aaron Brooks wasn't shooting well when he took over the starting role, but has shot incredibly well since he took it over. Sample size arguments are rampant, but I decided it would be worth taking a look at some numbers so far this season. All numbers are via Synergy Sports.

The first thing I found surprising was the minutes Isaiah Thomas and Aaron Brooks have played this season. Although Isaiah has has been relegated to the bench recently, overall this season he's played 224 minutes to Brooks' 278. I expected a bigger gap. After tonight's game, I suspect that gap will continue to grow. But seeing as we have a relatively similar sample size, let's see who has been better this season.

Aaron Brooks Isaiah Thomas
PPP 1.05 0.89
Rebounds 23 13
Assists 26 22
Turnovers 10 20
Steals 9 5
FG% 47.20% 42.30%
3FG% 42.90% 37.10%
FTM 2 14
FTA 5 17
FT% 40% 82%

Quite clearly, Brooks stands out in nearly every category. Just to be sure there were no per-minute flukes in here, I calculated these on a per minute basis, and the results hold true with the exception of assists. Isaiah has averaged 3.54 assists per 36 minutes to Brooks' 3.37.

The only other area Isaiah stands out as superior is his ability to get to the free throw line. Brooks FT% is quite a bit lower, but the samples in this area are dramatically different. Brooks is a career 84% free throw shooter, so I'm not terribly concerned by his current mark of 40%.

So maybe we were wrong? Maybe, despite the affection most of us feel for how Isaiah played last season, Brooks is the better choice. But these numbers are only on one side of the court, right?

Aaron Brooks Isaiah Thomas
PPP 0.8 1.01
Opp FG% 40% 40.80%
Opp 3FG% 30.8 40.9
Iso PPP 0.55 0.92
P&R PPP 0.8 0.77

Brooks stands out as a better defender overall. Thomas is better at defending the pick and roll, but only marginally.

Obviously, it's too early to put too much emphasis on these stats. But the early returns indicate that maybe Keith Smart made the right choice. If nothing else, I'll be continuing to keep a close eye on these numbers and how they progress.